Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Widow's Kitchen: Part Three Cooking-For-One

It’s an understand statement to say that the cooking class I signed up for---Cooking-For-One---isn’t what I thought it would be. The dietitian teaching the series announced at the beginning of our third session: “Beans, beans, are not the musical fruit. The more you soak the LESS you’ll toot!” Oh, my gosh! Two hours on identifying, cooking, storing and tasting beans is not something I expected to do on a fine April day in middle America. “Slow soak. Hot soak. Quick soak. Gas-free soak.” Who cares? Mashed pinto beans on pizza? Really? Who makes pizza for one? And don’t pretend a six inch tortilla is as good as pizza crust. I’m not that gullible. In fact, talking about pizza for one made me realize I miss pizza! A gooey, cheesy thick crust pizza supreme, I haven’t had any since Don passes away. Every so often we’d drop the dog off at doggie daycare, and then we’d go into town for a pizza. I’ll bet Levi misses those play dates as much as I miss the pizza.

Back on topic: The class instructor seem to think whatever we make we can add protein packed beans to it---tuna melts, banana or zucchini bread, brownies, salads, waffles, etc. I’m surprised she didn’t give us a recipe for a bean facial scrub. But I must say, the bun-less black bean burgers we had in class topped with a mixed bean salsa, avocado and sour cream was tasty. And the white bean pancakes with strawberries the dietitian also served I would order in a restaurant. But would I make them? No. Making a big batch of something like pancakes, then freezing part of them to pop into a toaster later on is not the kind of cooking-for-one I envisioned learning how to do. Duh, I can split recipes to freeze without a class and it's rubbing salt in the widow's wound when you have to cook like that---or is it just me?. Besides, I’ll bet the Iron Chefs on the Food Network never freeze a batch of pancakes or a half a can of beans to use later on. I don’t want to be an old widow with a freezer full of split recipes. Hey, that might make a good episode of Chopped, though. Open up a widow’s freezer and empty it out for the mystery baskets full of ingredients for their cook-offs contests.

I may poke fun of taking an entire cooking class about beans or say that splitting recipes makes me sad. I may say I didn’t learn anything useful for a woman living alone but being in the class, sampling and laughing was a fun way to spend an afternoon. Plus I got a cute little booklet of 50 ways to add beans to your diet with the advice that we each need to eat a half to a full cup of beans a day. Who does that? Certainly not me but the class did bring back a funny memory of Don. He once asked me to buy him a half a dozen cans of beans for an upcoming hunting trip. It was a guy thing and something to do with a yearly farting contest. “Beans, beans, the musical fruit. They drive your tent mates outside while you toot.” ©

Spicy Roasted Cinnamon Chickpeas  (I liked these!)

1 15oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
½ t cumin
½ t paprika
½ t cinnamon
¼ t coriander
¼ t cloves
¼ t kosher salt
⅛ t cayenne pepper
⅛ t smoked paprika
1 tablespoon parsley, finely chopped

Instructions: Preheat oven to 400 degrees and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
Combine all ingredients except parsley in a small bowl and toss to fully coat.
Spread chickpeas out on baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, tossing 2-3 times.
Add the parsley before serving. Experiment with various combinations of spices and try adding nuts for variation.


  1. Okay, I'll confess to making pizza for one, including one favorite recipe with white beans, fennel and rosemary. I'm guessing that the difference in our attitudes toward splitting recipes and freezing leftovers is probably because I've been cooking for one most of my adult life and don't see leftovers as symbolic of a sad half-life. Instead, (especially because I'm still working full-time and often don't get home until 7 p.m.), I see those leftovers as a way to eat something delicious and home-cooked after a long day at work when I'm too tired to cook.
    I don't cook beans as often as your cooking teacher seems to think is reasonable :-), but I always soak and cook twice as many beans as I need and put the rest in the freezer for another dish. For me, freezing ingredients is like canning -- a way to feel self-sufficient and cook from scratch without having to cook from scratch every day. -Jean

  2. I think you are right on the mark regarding our different attitudes on freezing leftovers and splitting recipes. About the only things I've ever been in the habit of freezing in the past was cut green peppers, cut onions and grapes. Recently, I've gotten the hang of freezing serving size chicken, salmon, bacon and stir-fry beef and that has worked out well. I need to expand my freezing "skills". :) I might not ever make pizza for one, but I probably have a dozen pizza places within a mile. I could at least learn to pick up a take-out pizza for one.

    Any other widows out there struggling with the changes in cooking?

  3. Great story about Don. LOL One thing I love about living alone is expressing myself.

    Cooking for one in batches is practical, and yes, sad still. I either getitoverquickly or make it an event with a glass of wine, enjoying the colors and smells, the sizzle of the grill, along with my favorite tunes. Guess which I do more?

    Whether it's barely bearable or fun for one, cooking is necessary. But when added to all the other 'necessaries', things reach the tipping point. Tell me, do you eat at a table or in front of the TV?

  4. I've been doing a lot of stir-fries, sauteing or making salads for my main meal of the day. I like your idea of making cooking an event once in a while. I eat at the kitchen table BUT that is also in front of the TV.